LIFESAVING volunteers are taking on a marathon in a month challenge as they look to plug a gap in fundraising caused by coronavirus.

The team at the Samaritans branch in Cathcart Street are taking part in the Samarathon - a national campaign which challenges people to cover 26 miles in July.

They have raised around £2,500 by walking, jogging and running their way through the month, with results and donations recorded via the Samaritans fundraising page.

Inverclyde Samaritans director Elaine Bradley have covered around 250 miles so far and Elaine says the initiative is working well for the charity in the absence of their usual 'in-person' events.

She added: "It costs between £7,000 and £10,000 to keep the branch open every year, so we're so grateful for any donations we receive.

"We usually make around £500 or £700 from our face-to-face fundraisers, so we're thrilled to have raised this amount so far.

"We can't do in-person fundraisers as yet so it's great to be able to still do something."

Volunteers who are taking part all set up their own JustGiving pages and record their own miles.

The Inverclyde Samaritans branch has supported people all the way through the coronavirus pandemic.

Elaine says there has been a significant increase in the number of mental health calls and calls from prisoners in these very difficult times.

She said: "Our support didn't stop when the pandemic hit.

"We've been there for people throughout.

"One of our volunteers even got involved in a dedicated confidential support line for health and social care workers and volunteers.

"We're a night-time service and we're there for people to listen and to signpost them to services in their community."

Elaine says Inverclyde Samaritans receives good support from the council and particularly from Councillor Jim McEleny but she and the team will always welcome support from people across the area.

The busy service is also preparing to welcome four new volunteers in the coming months.

To find out more about this month's challenge visit

GOING THE DISTANCE Front row are Hazel O'Brien and her dog Lily, Mel Boyland and Margo Campbell, back row Norma Pickett and Inverclyde Samaritans director Elaine Bradley